Adler, Nathan Marcus (DNB01)

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ADLER, NATHAN MARCUS (1803–1890), chief rabbi, born at Hanover on 15 Jan. 1803, was third son of Mordecai Adler, rabbi in Hanover, and grand-nephew of Rabbi David Tewele Schiff, chief rabbi of London in the reign of George III (from 1705 to 1792). In addition to careful instruction in Hebrew and theology, he received a good general education, and he attended successively the universities of Gcittingen, Erlangen, Wiirzburg, and Heidelberg. On 27 March 1828 he received a certificate of ordination from Abraham Bing, the chief rabbi of Wiirzburg, and on 5 June graduated Ph.D. from the university of Erlangen. In 1829 he was elected chief rabbi of the grand duchy of Oldenburg, and in 1830 he undertook the office of chief rabbi of Hanover, which his father was unable to fill from lack of qualifications required by the government. On 13 Oct. 1844 he was elected chief rabbi of London, in succession to Rabbi Solomon Hirschel [q. v.], and on 9 July 1845 was installed at the great synagogue. He entered on his office shortly after the foundation of the 'reform' congregation in Burton Street, at a time when one party in the Jewish church was urging rapid innovation, while another was opposing all change. Adler represented the moderate party, which desired to effect improvement by gradual modifications. His first efforts were for the improvement of Jewish schools, especially of those for the middle class. He inspected the schools and pointed out their deficiencies. On his initiative a training college for the Jewish ministry, known as Jews' College, was founded at 10 Finsbury Square on 11 Nov. 1855, From him also proceeded, on 24 Sept. 1860, the first proposal for uniting the English congregations under one management, which resulted in the passage of the United Synagogues bill through parliament in 1870. For many years he lived at 4 Crosby Square, Bisliopsgate. Subsequently he removed to 16 Finsbury Square, and in 1880 he left London for Brighton, where he took a house at 36 First Avenue. His son, Dr. Hermann Adler, was at the same time appointed to perform the main duties of his office, with the title of delegate chief rabbi. Dr. Adler died at his residence at Brighton on 21 Jan. 1890, and was buried at Willesden cemetery on 23 Jan.

Adler was twice married. By his first wife, Henrietta Worms (d. 1854), of Frankfort, he had five children — two sons and three daughters. The younger son, Dr. Hermann Adler, succeeded him as chief rabbi. By his second wife, Celestine Lehfeldt, who survived him, he had one son and two daughters.

A portrait of Adler by Solomon Alexander Hart [q. v.] is in the vestry room of the great synagogue, and another by Mr. B. S. Marks was presented to the council by the president of the united synagogue. Adler published several sermons, and was the author of a Hebrew commentary on the Chaldee paraphrase of Onkelos on the Pentateuch, 'Nethinah la-ger,' Wilna, 1874; 2nd edit. 1877.

[Jewish Quarterly Review, July 1890; Jewish Chronicle, 24, 31 Jan. 1890; Biograph, 1881, v. 136-9.]

E. I. C.